Friday, October 11, 2019

Kapler fired; Offseason plan

Kapler is gone. There was a strong case to keep him but his decision-making, state of the clubhouse as the summer wore on (including two collapses in two years), and inability to find a lead-off hitter in those last four months were the main reasons. In reality, without the contract status of him vs. Klentak & McPhail, it probably would've been the president and GM for failure to sign pitchers, especially failure to even make a run at Keuchel. I would like two things from Middleton (announced publicly): involved in at least one of the rounds of interviews and that he gave Klentak orders to find two starting pitchers (preferably Hamels & Cole but two is the number) with no spending limit on them plus JT's extension. A press conference is scheduled for today.

Here are the key dates (give or take 2d) pertaining to roster development:

  • 5d after last gm WS (11/1-4): Free Agency begins (8), Team decisions on qualifying offers (QO) & all-party-decisions on options (Arietta, Hughes, Neshek & Vargas) due
  • Nov 6-8: GM Meetings
  • 15d after WS: Player decisions on QOs
  • Nov 20th: last awards announced
  • Dec 2nd: Non-tender deadline (arb-eligible) - 15 Phillies (Todd Zolecki has the list here)
  • Dec. 9-12: Winter Meetings, Rule 5 draft
  • Jan 11th: Arbitration #s exchanged; hearings start 2/1
  • Val. Day: ST begins
  • Feb 22nd: First ST Game
  • Mar 26th: O.D. @ Miami Marlins
  • July 12th: Game 96 & Futures game (@ Dodgers)
  • Fri, July 17th: Game 97
  • July 31st: ALL trades deadline
  • Sept 13th: Game 150
  • Sept 27th: Game 162
It should be the goal for the Phillies to have a manager as the World Series begins (selection) w/ an announcement on one of the travel days. They also need two trainers, a scouting director and pitching & hitting coaches - the make-up of the coaching staff will be left up to the new manager but the Phillies must payout the 2020 contracts of the other nine coaches if any were to be removed by the new manager:


Roster

Then comes free agency. You cannot put all your eggs in one basket (offense). Gotta get starters and first-year-FA (29-32 YO) relievers. Here are my thoughts on the roster make-up:

C Realmuto (extend); Knapp at back-up is fine but Klentak should find another if possible
1B: Hoskins (or trade for pitching); Kingery, Quinn? temporarily - move Bohm to 1B if Rhys is traded. He certainly has work to do whether he's a Phillie or not.
2B: Kingery
3B: bring back Galvis if possible.
SS: Segura (but three strikes you're out on hustling!)
LF: McCutchen
CF: Committee. Herrera must be given an opportunity per MLB policy thru Phillies or trade; Kingery & McCutchen (occasional), Bruce & Quinn (health pending)
RF: Harper

Rotation: Nola, Arietta, FA, FA, other - I thought Cole Irvin was worthy of a bounce-back opp. At least one of Eickhoff, Velasquez, Eflin (1st-yr arb) or Pivetta will return (Pivetta is not arb-eligible) and whoever he (or they) is, he will be the long man. Smyly may be a minor-league deal w/ invite. Vargas will probably be opted out by Phillies. Eventually we'll see Howard, Medina and Lindow (them and Bohm will be invitees of course).

Bullpen (8): Pivetta, Neris, Dominguez, Robertson, Morgan; Hughes & Neshek may return but are F.A.-eligible.

Phillies have $57 million to spend this offseason before the luxury tax, which includes a $21MM AAV for Realmuto and some returning players. It's 20% per every $1 over but I think the Phillies can afford it or this year. Some clean-up next year (Arietta) will probably allow us a bit more flexibility to go back under but that's a post for next September.

Depth: this is important to address. I will say that Reading's 1st place finish will help the Phillies in 2020 & 2021.

Projections

I think the schedule, offense staying healthy, and getting pitchers will allow the Phillies to win 90. They were on a 94-win pace entering the Dodgers' series (Game 55). Minimum: 86 wins; Max: 95. World Series 2020? Anything goes in the postseason as the Nats-Dodgers series taught us. And Reading didn't make it past the first round and they were 1st in their division. You only need to get there and play sound fundamental baseball, outplaying your opponent. It's a crap-shoot.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Preview of the 2020 Season

The 2020 schedule is an interesting one. A mix of stretches of difficulty because of who their facing and where they're playing. The Phillies will need a strong opening road trip (@ MIA & @ NYM) and will need to take advantage of their home schedule - they need to win or sweep series' at home and avoid getting swept themselves (no more than once every six weeks). One such stretch of home games is ten right after the all-star game and they play a total of 19 on the road and 21 at home after that til the 10th. Those are the critical games. May is also a home-dominated month.

First 4 series (11): 7-4
May (27 games): 14-13 or 15-12
All-star break to 9/10: 31-20

Total in those games: 52-37; 37-36 rest of way = 89-73 and that's definitely a wild card and probably the division.

Of course it doesn't allow for a high margin of error but they won't need it if they stay healthy. I'll preview the roster moves that make this record possible shortly.

Season In Review

It is over. Game 162 ends with a loss. The Phillies won the final series of the season after getting swept out of DC and end the year with the same record as 2012: 81-81. The team scored 774 runs (middle of the majors and top ten in NL) and allowed 794 runs for a differential of 20 in favor of opponents. We allowed 753 ER for an ERA of 4.53 (middle of the majors and fifth highest in MLB - not good).

The turning point this year was the series vs the Dodgers at CBP as the calendar turned to June. Before that series, we were 33-22. Our 4.09 ERA was high but slightly better than the middle of the majors. It was 6th lowest in the NL. We scored 267 runs (4.85 per game) good for middle of majors and 7th highest in the majors. We scored six runs in the first two games of the three game set then McCutchen went down and we lost the finale 8-0.

The series shouldn't have been a turning point. We had enough time to find an internal candidate for the lead-off spot but no one stepped up. We also had several incidents of lack of accountability (no meetings; four hustling incidents plus two other mentions) and certainly there was at least one breakdown in communication (Cesar's punishment) that leads me to believe that Gabe has to go. Not going after pitching also proved a mistake but a justified decision at the time. Now, it's up to Klentak or he's at risk in 2020. Here's the results from games 56 to 162:

A complete reversal in offense & defense and record: 48-59; 507 R scored (we drop from 7th highest to 7th lowest in NL; avg was 4.74/gm); 4.74 ERA (we drop from 6th lowest to 5th highest in NL). We also allowed 5.21 RPG and our -51 run differential in that span took us from +28 after the 55th game to -20 overall.

Our ERA being in the middle of the pack shows that it was not a pitcher's year. Options to fix this include ball manufacture & storage, change in approach, change in strike zone (already been proposed with the change in IBB) and changing the height of the mound. I will not delve any further into the high MLB ERA. As for the Phillies, the pitchers were clearly not effective and there was hindsight to suggest they wouldn't materialize. I still think the decision to be most aggressive on offense (and subsequently defense) was correct and both were on pace to work out after 55 games. At the deadline, the decision to bring bounce-back candidates was also sound but clearly didn't work and that approach must not happen again. Unfortunately, the deadline more pertains to prospects. Phillies had non that were trade-able after the acquisitions of Realmuto & Segura but they could have called Keuchel.

It is also worth noting the team's decisions the last 5-7 years have failed more than 50% of the time, maybe even 80% failure. That is as weird as the last two years of free agency have gone. Here's hoping the team's luck turns around and the right calls are made this offseason and beyond. My next entry will be released soon: Preview of the 2020 Schedule.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Evaluation of the Phillies Season: Offense - No Pitching Entry Coming


The Phillies have been eliminated from post-season contention. In my previous post, I do blame Klentak and Kapler fairly equally but given their contract status, it looks more likely that Klentak will be the one to stay. We shall see. Expect at least some coaching change beyond getting a new hitting coach as Charlie doesn’t want the job in 2020 – thank you for stepping in! Come Oct or Nov 2020, Klentak or MacPhail may be gone. I am not going to grade the pitchers this year given that no one really performed well (even Nola took a step  back).

I wish we could dump almost everyone but Nola but what depth do we have in AAA? Spencer Howard (tremendous AA season), Adonis Medina & Ethan Lindow? I’d love to see at least three more names. Shame. Klentak must spend on pitching this year and Middleton must be open to going over the luxury tax threshold. Hamels (3.92 ERA this year, 3.95 in last 3 yr) still can help us (1-yr $20MM w/ $15MM option or 2-yr $32.5MM?). Not sure if we should trade for someone but if a team wants to take Herrera off our hands for pitching, Klentak should strongly consider it.

Without further ado, it is time to evaluate the team’s (79-78) offensive performance from an individual standpoint. As usual I will go in defensive order (2 C, 3-6 IF, 7-9 OF & a few bench players) and use my usual system (F, D, C, C+, B-, B, B+, A- & A).

Catching

JT Realmuto was the team MVP. He stepped it up offensively during the last two trimesters of the season, being the lone rep in the All-Star Game. With his injury, workload (580 PAs, 5.5 gm/wk  -too much for a catcher), and the team’s status of mot contending, it looks like his .275/.328/.493/.820 (AVG/OBP/SLG/OPS) line with 25 HR, 83 RBI, and 9/10 in SB will be final. Looking at the game logs, he’s only had maybe 3-4 bad games and 2 of them came in the midst of 7-10-day-long slumps. Certainly worthy of Silver Slugger consideration and a few top 5 MVP votes. Defensively, he’s been consistent year-round. He cut down the most runners in all of MLB and is one of the better game-callers & pitch framers in MLB. His defensive prowess only adds to his case for MVP votes. I agree with Harper that if JT does not get a Gold Glove, then the award truly is a joke. I also think JT deserves the Platinum GG (given to the best defender in each league) and it should be one of Klentak’s highest priorities to extend JT. It will be up to Kapler or the next manager to give him a few more days off/ DH games in interleague play so that he can last (and of course perform) thru the length of that contract. Grade: A-/ A (94%); STAY!!!

Knapp was seldom-used. His 140 PAs so far and my projection of 165 ( JT’s injury), is very low for even a back-up catcher. More PAs would have helped him stay fresh offensively but he is not, nor ever was, projected to be a starter, even on a mediocre team. If Klentak can find a serviceable back-up to JT, great. It is not a high priority. Grade: C (73%); go if possible

Infield

1B Hoskins: Oh he has some work to do. Fell off a cliff with everyone else. Eighty-plus (80) RBIs, >120 combined BB+HBP and 30 HRs is nothing to frown at but the inconsistency needed work long before this year. His BABIP & K-rate are consistent from last year. If he puts in the same work this winter as Kingery did last winter, lord help any team facing Rhys in 2020. Grade: C+/B- (79%)

2B Hernandez: Oh, one of the biggest non-hustlers on the team but our top hitter or on-base guy from year-to-year. I give him a C+ (76%). He’s now crossed into under-performing his arbitration value territory. However, his skills are necessary at the 6 or 7 spots in the line-up. It’s a dilemma but not too tough a decision.

3B Franco: Oh the demotion. Oh the inconsistency. Oh the lack of versatility. But the defense! Once a touted prospect coming up, he has yet to hit .270 or better in consecutive years. The demotion was a surprise but probably deserved. His treatment by Kapler really wasn’t deserved. Demotion had no effect on his performance. Grade: C (72%); Bye!

SS Segura: Gosh darn-it you need to hustle! Ok, that’s out of the way. We got him to not strike out so did he succeed: 12% of PAs, so he did! Nearly a career low in Ks actually. I would’ve put him 6th in the line-up with his low-K rate but he did the job and the K rate didn’t vary much with leverage (although it climbed to 14% with runners on). Would’ve liked to see more BB & SB, too. Grade: C+/ B- (78%). Stay for three months then reevaluate based on hustle.

Bench: Kingery (B+/ 87%) had a great bounce-back year, just a bit more consistency needed. The rest of the bench was inconsistent.

Next year: C: JT & (Knapp or other); 1B: Hoskins; 2B: Kingery; 3B: Galvis (please bring him back), SS: Segura. IF bench needs improvement.

Outfield

The only one to grade is Harper: not a bad first year but not amongst the best he could have. Excellent in high leverage and clutch situations. Needed to help carry the offense. Grade: B (84%). I’m looking for more hitting in lower leverage situations.

I’m very pumped for the OF depth in S.T. next year. McCutchen and Harper get two spots w/ Kingery able to play here as well (I’m hoping 2B mostly) followed by Bruce, Williams (can we get him some more PAs?), Quinn (good speed when healthy but I’ll take it), Haseley, possibly Herrera plus I’m hoping we can re-sign Dickerson.

Overall Score

You may have noticed that I was being lenient against how bad they performed overall vs. expectations. You are correct. The avg is a B- (81.5%). The front office and coaches get some blame and the pitching was terrible. Factor in the blame I assigned in my last post, we get a 75% (C).

Back to the offense: I did a projection based on the “stay category” plus minor improvements for everyone, especially for those where injuries held them back. The result: 86% (maybe 87%). Applying half of that improvement to 157 games results in 82-83 wins with five to go, which would at least tie us with the Mets and Cubs. Add a .500 record in the last 5 games and we’re at 84-87 wins.

And that’s not considering the team was 33-22 after the first 55, which is a 94-win pace in 157 games – 2-4 gms back of the Braves right now but we’ll lower it to 2 because I project a better head-to-head record (yes we already won the season series). Factor in Alec Bohm, too. Now, all I ask is to salvage one win in this current Nats series and to win this weekend’s series vs. Marlins for an 82-80 record.

Awards

Recognition for their 2019 seasons should be high for JT as I mentioned but Haseley, Kingery, Nola, Harper, Neris (80-85 SV%, 2.97 ERA) and Alvarez & Suarez (3-3.5 ERA in ~50 IP each), and Dickerson (.300 AVG, .900 OPS w/ PIT & PHI) may get some consideration for the lesser known awards. Many of our guys are up for at least a resiliency award in 2020: Irvin, Nola, Arrieta, McCutchen, Herrera, and Hoskins are just a few names plus our entire bullpen (injuries). Some, of course, may not get the award as Phillies.

Enjoy the winter. Should be a suspenseful off-season at first. That excites me.

Also of note, the defense improved this year and slightly more than expected. Still had a few rough games but excellent overall!

Monday, September 9, 2019

Evaluation of the Phillies 2019 Season - Front Office Edition


Well this season is not going according to plan. Of course, that's typical of baseball. However, this is not just baseball being baseball: Things should have gone better especially within a few games of McCutchen's injury. Despite their struggles, the team is 2.0 games back of the wild card with 20 to play. The Cubs are in control but Arizona, Milwaukee, and the Mets are within four games - that's one good series away from leading the pack. The Nats currently hold a 3-game lead for the top spot. My prediction for the Phillies is barely out of the playoffs come game 162 but an 85-77 record (five more wins than last year), again not what we envisioned after signing Harper and doing so well to start the year. It cost John Mallee. Who's next in terms of coaches and front office? I outline that here.

Middleton

He got Bryce, extended MacPhail & Klentak and pushed for Mallee’s firing but those moves aren’t working out. He does pay attention to the fans’ input and did have the foresight to rebuild after 2012 (and pushed Amaro to start the process  out) but he delayed telling us about the extensions and was extremely slow to react to us in the Mallee situation. I don’t think any sort of change in ownership should be mandated by MLB but the accountability has to improve. Grade: C+/B- (79.5%)

MacPhail

All I can say is he has been largely absent from the view of fans outside his two pressers. Another presser was needed for sure. Given his extension and his role largely being invisible anyway, I’m ok with keeping him but no more extensions. Grade: F+ (58%)

Klentak

Ultimately relying solely on the offense to carry our team was a mistake but a decision that could have gone either way given the need for flexibility at the trade deadline. He acquired a lot of guys recently and they’ve helped keep the team afloat better than the Opening Day crop of starters. Injuries, of course, really hurt the bullpen this year but If I were to tell you (at the beginning of his tenure) that every one of Klentak’s signings (Bryce was Middleton’s) would be a disaster, I would be laughed at. Yes, I’ll give him a little credit for setting up the Harper signing. But what are the odds of injuries and poor performance, especially these players? No, I have no qualms with how careful he was during F.A. but his dugout coaching decisions were awful. Hiring Kapler was the worst mistake he made (20/10 vision based on Gabe’s previous [lack of] coaching experience/ success). Firing MacKanin may have been worse but at the very least, he was fired a year too early.

No more extensions, especially with Mike Trout essentially an Angel for life. Matt MUST demote Kapler to a front-office assistant or fire him altogether. Will that occur? There’s no guarantee but the odds increased a few weeks ago and the move MUST happen. I’ll then give Matt two years to get this team up and running (coaching staff) but the roster MUST make the postseason next year. Yes, the 2020 roster (2019 + Klentak cleaning it up a bit) can make the postseason on their own. We won’t know how far they can go until we have at least a year of the new manager. Grade: F (50%)

Kapler

You knew where I stand based on my evaluation of Klentak. Gabe seldom uses the eye test. His players are out of touch with him (a la the recent Cesar Hernandez punishment). And there’s no knowing how far he can take this team if it makes the postseason this year or next. I’m willing to bet he doesn’t make the Fall Classic nor manage or coach a team again once he’s fired (outside shot of being a strength/ conditioning coach) but that’s his fault. Grade: F- (40%)

Roster & Coaches

The rest of the roster will be evaluated more closely toward the end of the season but I have some preliminary thoughts. I’d say Hernandez & Franco go and Segura stays at least a year. Bruce is under contract - KEEP HiM HERE!!! Gotta extend Realmuto with Knapp getting one more year. Not sure about the bullpen or rotation (demotions coming mostly). That’ll be addressed in F.A. Unfortunately, we’re stuck with Arietta but we could add Hamels. Definitely need some players in the minors to step up next year, which will give me a lot more hope for 2021 in addition to 2020. AA Reading won their division so I’m thinking that scenario will occur.

Manuel probably won’t want to stay on. The bullpen coach was dealt a bad hand with the injuries so he can stay but Young’s mound visits didn’t make a difference most of the time. Send him out. I think Dusty should be the next manager. He’s ready now (would’ve been ready this year if Matt had given MacKanin another year). The strength and conditioning philosophy all the way down needs to be reevaluated with all the injuries and inability of our pitchers to pitch deep into games. Does this require a change in S&C staff? Maybe. Most important is to extend some of these bullpen guys from the day they are signed (the month or so after the draft).

Thursday, March 28, 2019

2019 Preview - Value vs. Contract



Welcome to opening day!!! Baseball is here and the Phillies look to contend again. They won 80 (it was an ugly road at the end) and improvements + use of a few what ifs look to get them to 87, probably 90-94. I started this entry about two weeks ago with the question, “Is this a make-or-break year for everyone on the roster?” However, this turned into more of a season preview as I expanded and edited. The answer to my initial question is: not everyone but the roster is becoming expensive. Arbitration, extensions, guys entering free agency soon (bullpen & Arietta) and a logjam of outfielders put almost everyone on the roster on alert. What will get them to below 87 or above 89? I have concluded that the rotation will be the biggest factor in determining success in combination with how Gabe Kapler manages games.

Rotation

Last year, the starting pitchers ruled the roost during the first five months. The team won most of the first 60 games and they recovered nicely after being swept out of San Francisco: with three consecutive series wins (6-3 record) against the tough NL Central. All of that was thanks to the rotation keeping them in games, especially after a late-April change to the back-end. Of course, Nola’s lasted all of 2019 and received third place in Cy Young voting. Behind Nola’s curve & control, Arietta did very until his knee started hurting. He and IF C. Hernandez played with an injury, and while that’s admirable, I prefer these guys hit the DL & heal than play thru it & be less or in-effective as a result. (Side note: If I later say something to the contrary, please redirect me here). Back to Arietta… he must last through the year as he’s due to get a third year if he’s effective.

Eflin will join Velasquez’s four-seamer and Pivetta’s curve to round out the rotation. They all had either break-out performances or seasons in the past and this is the last year they get to prove whether they stick. Arbitration is coming. And all of them - and most of the bullpen, too - are right-handed pitchers. If they’re effective, it’s no big deal. Last year thru mid-Aug, they were just that: 3.70 ERA thru 8/12 ranked 7th but their 4.19 ERA since ranked 17th in those respective spans. A lefty to help keep opposing hitters off-balance would probably have led to another 1-3 wins during that late-year skid plus another 4-6 during the 1st four months, which is why the Phillies pursued those guys.

Defense & Gabe

Helping the pitchers will be better fielding performances and those will lead to better [defensive] decisions by Kapler & the staff. No one will be happier about that than Jake Arietta (lol!) if that becomes the case. The micromanaging of the line-up, pitching changes, substitutions, and defensive alignment was due, in part, to poor performance overall, except in some cases, including Nola being pulled on O.D. With Gabe, I hope “old habits die hard” doesn’t apply in the case of better performance. If he relies more on the eye test than he did last year, my hope will probably come to fruition, assuming better performances play out.

Relievers

Most of these guys are in their early arbitration or last year of free agent deals. Most tired up down the stretch due to Gabe’s constant changes. I see more veterans already & expectations from Gabe are now established, so that should help. But I really think Gabe was more of a factor than performances. And a related side note, I personally am sick and tired of all the pitching changes & playing match-ups throughout baseball. I approve of the soon-to-be-implemented pitchers-facing-2-3-plus-batters rule. For the Phillies, MLB.com considers the bullpen a top-ten in the majors.

Pitching

In conclusion, this is probably the area the Phillies will improve on in July as the trade deadline approaches either Keuchel, Kimbrel or trade for a lefty. The team doesn’t have too much room to play with before hitting the competitive balance (i.e. luxury) tax.

Hitting

The balance in the line-up between sluggers, hitters and on-base guys was already much improved with the additions before landing Harper. The 1-2 punch with him and Hoskins has already demonstrated its danger to opposing pitchers and managers. That combo could yield over 75-85 HRs! And I speak for most Phillies fans, team personnel and Harper himself in hoping that Bryce gets off to a good start in year 1 of his 13-year deal. Segura & Realmuto are now into arbitration with extensions likely forthcoming and both are contact hitters. McCutchen can hit or get on base, so he could see time anywhere in the line-up. Now, he’s not blocking anyone on the 40-man roster offensively or defensively like Santana did, but Andrew does need to perform or he may be traded – Herrera, Cousins, Quinn and Williams have skills the Phillies would like to utilize. MLB.com also shares this line of thinking, good balance this year compared to mostly on-base guys last year… ranking the Phillies a top-ten offense.

It is the improvement here and coin-flip probabilities in the rotation’s potential (thanks to only Nola proven and Arietta being a veteran) that leads me to list them as the main factor in determining this year’s success. Gabe is also a factor (could be equal, more or less – depends on his in-game moves) but I think good performances will result in less strategy. Go Phillies!

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

On Machado, Harper, Arietta and free agency

Manny Machado will spend at least the first two years of his potential HoF career out of the postseason, but the now former Oriole is used to that and now makes just over $1.15MM per paycheck. Harper is still unsigned and the rumors continue to swirl - now it's the Dodgers getting [back?] in on the action. I think he gets to the Phillies for 33MM/ yr over probably ten years but lots of details still in the works. Last year at this time, Jake Arietta signed for what could be 3 yr/ $75MM instead of 7 yr/ $120MM+. Alex Rodriguez recently chimed in on the long free agency and Cardinals Pitcher Adam Wainwright fears a mid-season walk-out.

On negotiations with Harper

I'd go with $32.5MM AAV for nine years (age 26-34) with opt-out after five years. If he decides to stay, he gets $5MM, and then then the options: $25MM or $5MM buyout at 550 PAs last year (or 475 & 625 PAs last two years) or $20MM mutual option at lesser amt of PAs. Boras is trying to get a 3-yr opt out and that actually may work in the Phillies favor long term: age 29-31 seasons may be the only time we contend. If we get Trout (unlikely but not rare either), we could contend longer - great bargaining chip to use on Harper and we then have two star outfielders (both former first-round picks BTW) for 2022. Harper & Trout in their primes together for at least 2 years. If we don't get Trout, we could still renegotiate with Harper or let him walk (we must be developing - cannot have a repeat of 2012-2017). In the former case, I am reminded of A-Rod's 10-yr/ $275MM contract, but that time, we'll probably do another opt-out after 3 years. At least, that's what I'd offer. In all likelihood, I'll be fine with 10-11 guaranteed with a player opt-out and the 25/20/5 option for one (maybe 2) years after the end of deal. Mutual buyout after 6 years could also work. I think both sides will be happy money & options/ opt-outs wise.

On CBA, free agency and player payment

Let's ignore that these star players make too much already and talk about how much control teams have for most in their primes (6 years before free agency) and how arbitration undervalues many of these players. Too much control, too much undervalue (look at Nola's recent negotiations) when these players would make 2-3 times as much on the free agent market. In my humble opinion, I'd favor one less year of control and arbitration a year earlier (so an avg of 1.5-2 yr of ML minimum instead of 2.5-3 yr) in exchange for signing deadline: Teams must submit proposal (options, opt-outs, and base salary - obviously would be based on negotiations) to FAs & MLB office by 4:30 PM ET 2/10 and the players must pick (sign offer sheet) and notify team & MLB by 1:30 PM ET 2/14. They could sign sooner, but once they do, a physical must be performed by 2:30 PM ET (submit results or certificate of completion to MLB by 4:30 PM that day) the 3rd day (e.g. sign 2/14, physical due 2/17; sign 2/11, physical due 2/14). Quite frankly, I'm getting tired of all the back and forth from teams on Harper.

On the possible lockout?

I do not think the players will walk out this year but sometime next year if more star FAs are unsigned in February, expect a strike that year.

If any news comes of Harper or any renegotiations of CBA, I'll provide an opinion. Enjoy the games!